Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
DENVER (CBSLA.com) — Coors Field in Denver is becoming something of a “No-Man’s Land” for the Dodgers.
Having been the scene where Matt Kemp’s devastating 2012 injury took place, Dodger rookie phenom Yasiel Puig went down as the latest “Coors Casualty” in the sixth inning of Monday’s 10-8 win with a strained knee, sustained during an awkward slide into third base.
The 2013 Dodgers are a club that shows the payoff of looking at the brighter side of things, however, and as such, Michael Young got his first start for Los Angeles.
While Young’s LA debut left much to be desired, the Dodgers scored three runs in the ninth inning to put the Rockies away 7-4, extending their winning streak to six games.
The Dodgers are up 13.5 games in the National League West.
The last time the Dodgers had a lead of that magnitude was 1977.
The altitude in Denver must benefit Andre Ethier’s swing, as he led off the second inning with his third double in two days. A walk to Mark Ellis and an infield base hit from Skip Schumaker loaded the bases with Dodgers and no outs. Ethier would score on a sacrifice fly by Federowicz, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
After Carl Crawford led off the ball game with a single for the second day in a row, he connected again in the second inning with a 2-out single down the left field line to score Ellis and Schumaker. To continue his tear, he led off the fifth inning with another single, and took third base when Nick Punto sent a ball into left center to match Crawford for his own 3-for-3 streak. He extended the Dodger lead to four runs when Gonzalez sacrificed to center. Punto would bat 4-for-5.
Young, on the other hand, struggled in his Dodger debut. The seven-time All Star went 1-for-5 from the plate. His one hit, however, came as part of a ninth inning push by the Dodgers, who loaded the bases with two outs for Mark Ellis.
After initially drawing a 3-0 count, Ellis smacked a pitch deep to left center. It fell well short of the wall, seemingly into the glove of Charlie Culberson, and then safely to the grass. The error allowed all three runs to score, giving the Dodgers the insurance they needed.
Ricky Nolasco, who won his career-best sixth consecutive decision, continued his hot pitching, striking out five through six innings. His streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings came to an end in the fifth when Chacin lined a single to right, scoring Charlie Blackmon from second base. He was chased out of the game after the sixth inning, in which he failed to recover from a rough fifth, and the Rockies began mounting a comeback, coming within two runs of the Dodgers.
Josh Rutledge brought Colorado within a run by leading off the eight inning with a home run to left off reliever Paco Rodriguez. He, too, was lifted following a walk, in favor of Ronald Belisario.
Following a sacrifice bunt, Troy Tulowitzki lined a pitch hard. It appeared to be heading for the gap to score the tying run, but Punto made a great snag and doubled up Dexter Fowler, who took off from second upon contact, thinking, like everyone else, that the ball was outfield-bound.
Mixed with the Arizona Diamondbacks loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Dodgers’ magic number is down to 12.
Monday’s win qualified the 2013 Dodgers into an elite group.
The club became only the third team since 1901 to recover from being 12 games under .500 to achieve being 22 games over .500 (1914 Boston Braves, 2009 Colorado Rockies).
Wednesday will see another Dodger debut; that of right hander Edinson Volquez (9-10, 5.96 ERA) on the mound taking on Jorge De La Rosa (15-6, 3.33).